Friday, October 18, 2013

Christians in Malaysia use BM in worship and prayer - odd to allow only Sabah and Sarawak Christians to use certain words

The lingua franca in Malaysia is Bahasa Malaysia - no more English, and that is also the language used for worship and prayer for Malaysian Christians. In the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia, particularly the major towns, the grasp of English is still strong, and many a Churches have numbers to have services wholly in English, Chinese(Mandarin), Tamil and/or Bahasa Malaysia. But in many other communities, services are multi-lingual, and BM is used a lot. In Bahasa Malaysia services, the word 'Allah' has been used for years in songs and prayers.

Many of our Malaysian friends from Sabah and Sarawak are now in Peninsular Malaysia, and have been for a very long time. They are in the Universities, Colleges, military camps, in the civil service and even the private sector. In communion, during worship, Christian communities do it together and as mentioned the lingua franca is now Bahasa Malaysia (or some say Bahasa Melayu) - and so the usage of the word 'Allah' is used all over Malaysia.
It is makes no sense for this Malaysian government to be ignorant of this fact, and it is odd for the government to be saying things like  'The word 'Allah' can be used by Sabahan and Sarawakian Christians in their worship, including in the Malay-language bible al-Kitab...' - We are Malaysians, all of us. What do you want? Separate churches and worship for Sabahans and Sarawakian Christians where 'Allah' can be used? 
The restriction in our Federal Constitution is that there should be no proselytisation of Muslims (i.e. the attempt to convert Muslims in Malaysia to another religion), and that is tolerated and accepted by all other major religious groups in Malaysia. Now, the new 'infringement' into the other religions by the imposition of restrictions of the usage of certain words generally is stepping over the accepted boundaries. What next? The restriction of the usage of Bahasa Malaysia(Melayu) by other religions? 
It is odd that there are those that come out now and say respect the decision of the court - but the question is why now? Did they also come out and say respect the decision of the court after the High Court decision? Court decision can be criticized and courts comprised of human judges are fallible and do 'err' (make mistakes). Even decisions of the highest court of the land have been overruled by subsequent courts. Even decisions of the highest court have been 'dismantled' through the amendment of laws or the passing of new laws by Parliament. 
The Catholic Herald is an official publication of the Catholic Church, and it reaches Catholics all over Malaysia, even Sabah and Sarawak - as such, it makes little sense for comments that Sabah and Sarawak Christians can use the word 'Allah' - but Herald that read cannot use the word. So, what if it is a 'special edition' only for Sabah and Sarawak Christians, is that OK for that publication to use the word 'Allah'? 
So like political party publications, which have restrictions that it is 'only for party members', we may have new publications that use to word 'Allah' to have the words 'only for Christians from Sabah and Sarawak'? Come to think about it, what about Orang Asli Christians from Peninsular Malaysia? 
True, we are in a period just before the UMNO elections - and I do wonder whether the position taken by some in this Malay party could be just some form of 'campaigning' to win in the upcoming party elections? Or maybe worse, it may be 'campaigning' to regain the lost Muslim citizen support? But as government, let it not be forgotten that Malaysia is a multi racial and multi religious country, with a citizenry that really is very tolerant and respectful of their fellow Malaysians (even foreigners) irrespective of their differences arising by reason of ethnicity, religion or other matters...
I also wonder at times whether this issue, like many other 'ethnic or religious issues' are sometimes just distractions to divert Malaysians from the other very real concerns - like equitable distribution of wealth amongst individuals/households in Malaysia, the deterioration of worker and trade union rights including the loss of the right to regular employment until retirement, the TPPA and implication to Malaysia and its effect to the future advancement of the quality of life in Malaysia, Lynas, Bukit Koman, Free and Fair Elections, Detention Without Trial, ... 

There seems to be some confusion. It is important to note that the Court of Appeal case was only about the ability of the publication Catholic Herald to use the word 'Allah' - although in the judgment the judges seem to have strayed into the general question as to whether Christians (nay non- Muslims) should be using the term 'Allah'.
Sabah, Sarawak Christians free to use 'Allah', says gov't
12:09PM Oct 17, 2013

The word 'Allah' can be used by Sabahan and Sarawakian Christians in their worship, including in the Malay-language bible al-Kitab, the government has said.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Joseph Kurup was reported by Sin Chew Daily as saying that this was decided by the cabinet in their meeting yesterday.

He said the cabinet decided to fall back on the 10-point solution, which allows for the importation into and printing of Bibles of any language in Malaysia, including al-Kitab which uses the word ‘Allah'.
NONE"The cabinet has discussed the Court of Appeal decision because this issue has created much dissatisfaction and worry among Sabah and Sarawak Christians.

"They are worried if the Malay-language Bible that uses the word 'Allah' will be banned. Therefore the cabinet feels there is a need to clarify," he was quoted by Sin Chew as saying.

He added that the cabinet will also follow the case closely, due to the level of concern it has raised among the public.

Among others, the 10-point solution also states that there is no prohibition on Christians from carrying Bibles of any language from Sabah and Sarawak into the peninsula.

However, Bahasa Malaysia or Bahasa Indonesia Bibles brought into or printed in the peninsula must have the words 'Christian Publication' and a cross printed on its front cover.

The Court of Appeal on Monday overturned a High Court decision which allowed Catholic publication The Herald to use the word 'Allah' in its Malay-language edition.

The High Court decision in Dec 31, 2009 led to scattered attacks against Christian and Sikh places of worship.

The Herald is appealing the Court of Appeal decision at the Federal Court. - Malaysiakini, 17/10/2013, Sabah, Sarawak Christians free to use 'Allah', says gov't

No comments: